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2009年2月24日 (火)

社説:麻生内閣 「早く退陣を」が国民の声だ

(Mainichi Japan) February 23, 2009

Public crying out for Aso to resign

社説:麻生内閣 「早く退陣を」が国民の声だ

The approval rating for Prime Minister Taro Aso's Cabinet has dropped 8 points since January to 11 percent, a nationwide Mainichi Shimbun poll conducted on Saturday and Sunday has found. The low figure is comparable to the 9 percent support rating given to the governments of Noboru Takeshita and Yoshiro Mori late in their terms.


The government and ruling coalition must especially take to heart the fact that 39 percent of those surveyed said that Prime Minister Aso "should step down right now," while another 39 percent said that Aso "should stay in office until the next fiscal budget is passed." This means that close to 80 percent of respondents are calling for Aso's early resignation. In other words, the public has already pretty much turned its back on the Aso government.


The reasons are obvious. Former Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa disgraced himself in front of the entire world with his incoherent behavior at a press conference, after which Aso was slow in taking action, perhaps from a desire to protect an ally.


It is only natural that 58 percent of survey respondents said "the prime minister is responsible" for appointing Nakagawa to the post of finance minister and state minister for financial services. Without a doubt, the embarrassing incident has led the public to question whether the country is going to be all right in the hands of a government severely lacking a sense of urgency and crisis.


The public cannot be blamed for its increasing distrust of the prime minister. Some 73 percent of respondents said they do not support Aso, of which 44 percent claimed the reason was because "not much could be expected from the prime minister's leadership abilities," while 31 percent said that it was because "not much could be expected from the prime minister's policies." Asked whether Aso or Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) leader Ichiro Ozawa were appropriate for the post of prime minister, 25 percent -- the same as the previous survey -- chose Ozawa, while only 8 percent -- half the figure in the previous survey -- selected Aso.


Seventy-three percent of those surveyed oppose the government's cash handout plan, a key element of Aso's economic policies. Those close to the prime minister say they expect public opinion on the cash handouts to shift once the handouts are distributed. But at this point, the government probably just can't find the means to launch a counterattack to the criticism.


Even within the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), there are voices publically calling for Aso's resignation. They contend that if Aso is in power, the party cannot expect to win a majority in the House of Representatives when a general election is held, and as such, a replacement is necessary. The problem is, the LDP can't seem to find any suitable candidates to replace Aso. At this rate, there's a real danger that an in-party conflict indifferent to the general public's needs will drag out. This would be the most unfortunate development for ordinary citizens.


Support for the LDP remains, as with the previous survey, at a low 20 percent, widening the gap between that and the 29 percent approval rating for the DPJ. Surely the public is scrutinizing the irresponsibility of the LDP, which has repeatedly replaced prime ministers without seeking voters' input, and now that government approval ratings have plunged, the party is attempting to distance itself from the prime minister. A call to replace the prime minister because he poses a risk to the party's victory in a general election does not take voters' needs into account at all.


As the recession grows more serious by the day, the public is quickly losing patience. In order to establish a government that has the public's confidence, Aso should promptly dissolve the House of Representatives and hold a general election. That is what "politics for the people" is about.


毎日新聞 2009223日 東京朝刊


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